The Strange Familiar Place

I was in Colorado Springs for a few days, and yesterday was my friend’s birthday. We celebrated at a German restaurant (he’s Swiss) where there actually have good bratwurst. Not as good as St. Gallen bratwurst or the little weisswurst I ate in Munich, but very good. Nonetheless, I had chicken.

We also took a hike up to my “tree”.

My tree

Pikes Peak in the background, my tree in the foreground

It’s located in a place that was my hiking sanctuary when I was in high school. Now that Colorado Springs has more than doubled in population, and this geologic outcrop is no longer the northern edge of the city, the Bluffs (now known as Palmer Park) is full of people, parking their cars where no cars should be. And there are a ton of mountain bikers. I love mountain biking, but too many mountain bikes cause erosion.

What can I do about this? Zip. Nada. Nothing. Niente. Zero.

So I just enjoyed that I was there, climbing familiar rocks and hanging out with my friends. I was also aware of how nature quietly persists and decided that was a good strategy for me, too.


When Dogs Get Avid

Overall, my dogs are pretty calm. But they have their passions. Bear, as everyone knows, avidly loves snow. Mindy loves food. Dusty T. Dog loves me. Right now we’re visiting my friend in Colorado Springs who also has three dogs — two of them equal one Dusty. It seems like I brought up a herd of small horses to hang out with her dogs.  All six of them bark with passionate avidity at the mailman and the trash man and anyone who walks by with dogs.

Dog Avidness is pretty avid and can be scary. It can be accompanied with bared teeth and loud barks. Bear is currently perched on the highest spot in the living room watching for enemies outside.

All six of these guys are avid about rawhide chews, running out the dog-door at my friend’s house, and playing with each other.

I Demonstrate

I’m fundamentally apolitical, in fact, I believe in anarchism which is not anarchy, but never mind that. My philosophy is if the government isn’t fucking with me, I won’t fuck with it. I vote — I always vote — based on issues as much as I can. But, I marched for science today joining possibly millions of other people around the world. Why? Well, my personal reason is that my dad was a mathematician here in Colorado Springs, where I came up to join this Earth Day event. The second is political; the stupid “leader” of the Amurican people and his denial of scientific fact pisses me off on a moral level.

I like truth. I respect people who can say, “I don’t know, but I’ll find out.” And, “Yikes! I’m wrong!” and “Wow! What is that? I want to learn more!”

So I went to Colorado Springs City Hall with my friend and her developmentally disabled son (though I think he might not be disabled, more abled in a new and original way). I made posters to honor my dad. They have a slide rule on them. 🙂

March for Science Mark and Me

The march in this small city had just around 1000 people — not bad for a small, right-wing city on a snowy, wet April morning.


Dusty’s Harmonious Memories

When I had a bunch of Siberian huskies they, naturally, loves to howl at the right times. They knew when those times were. A siren, coyotes in the distance, Eminem (yeah, truly), and once the Evil X. The thing is, they find a pitch and they all howl in harmony.

Lily and Cheyenne

Cheyenne T. Wolf (front) Lily T. Wolf (back)

Dusty T. Dog really wanted to be like his husky sisters/moms and from the time he was a puppy, he tried to howl with them. He did pretty good for a dog of undetermined parentage but certainly not husky.

Sometimes now I’ll play a video of huskies howling, or wolves, and sometimes I’ll just hit a howl pitch, and Dusty will tip back his head, make a “howl” mouth and do his best. We howl together for old times sake, saying “We remember you!” to our huskies in Husky Heaven.

This is Cheyenney T. Wolf’s favorite howl along song by Eminem.

My Friend, Spike

I’d like you to meet Spike.

Coast Horned Lizard - Mission Creek 1


Spike is a California Coastal horned lizard. Hiking in the coastal chaparral of San Diego, I often caught a glimpse of Spike, and I think I picked him up once or twice. I like him a LOT. As you can see, he’s not easy to see (ha ha). That’s because Spike has a lot of predators, including scorpions. Spike is a furtive little fellow out of necessity. In different places — depending on the color of the dirt and the kinds of rocks about, Spike might have slightly different coloration.

I named all of them Spike. It was fun to be hiking along, catch sight of him on the edge of the bushes, and say, “Hi, Spike! Be careful out there!” Once I even picked up a tiny baby Spike. He was one of the cutest little critters I’ve ever seen.

Buying $100 Jeans for $15 on eBay: the Holy Grail

Ah, fashion. What a strange world you are.

I found some jeans I like a few years ago and I bought two pair.  Damn, if they haven’t worn out. One pair of them, anyway, shot to hell. The other I’m saving “for good.” I like them, and I still wear them, knees poking out and so on, but I know the truth. I’m a 65 year old woman and the shredded jeans look isn’t cool on me. I actually don’t think it looks good even on Kim Kardassian. In fact maybe especially not on Kim Kardassian.

So I went to the catalog (new edition) from which I bought them. Found the “same” ones. Ordered them. Hang the price, I love these jeans. They arrived. I put them on. They turned out to be baggy, shapeless high waters (on me that’s saying something; I have short legs — these were cut for small fry). Definitely NOT the jeans I love. But I kept them because, well, I needed jeans. It’s not a style that works with punk rock t-shirts. I’m not sure it’s a style at all.

Jeans today often have spandex. After a day or two the spandex had spanded and I could take off these jeans without opening them.

“That means they’re too big,” said my friend. Nothing gets past her.

Then I — on a whim — went on eBay. These jeans I loved were an old model. Maybe???

I’d like to end this story on a happy note, to say, “I found them on eBay for a fraction of the price” because that’s what all of us what to hear, but I haven’t found them, not that I’m sure of. Maybe. A pair that LOOKS like them is headed to me in the mail. $15.


River, Wind, Frogs and Birds

The first time I saw the Rio Grande I thought it was a road. I was staying in South Fork, a mountain town west of here, during the transition month between arriving in Colorado and finding a house to live in. I looked down from the field where I walked my dogs every day and saw an asphalt gray ribbon, as wide as a car lane, winding through the golf course below. I didn’t realize it wasn’t a road until 3 am one Sunday morning when Lily T. Wolf needed to go out. There were no trucks on the highway; the night was silent and I heard the river.

When daylight came we were, of course, out again and in the morning light the “road” was no longer gray but silvery blue. At that moment, it became my river.

This afternoon, Bear and I went out to the slough. The Rio Grande is now the highest I’ve seen it, and the channels that run through the slough are also deep and fast. Today all I heard on our walk was wind, the river, some frogs, red-wing blackbirds, and an annoyed goose. To me it’s really something to hike along a trail, listening to a river.


One of the channels in the slough

Mosey Along

“Hard to find a good chuckle these days.”


“Oh, life’s gotten very serious. I can’t believe I was anxious about the returns in an obscure election in Georgia. Sure wish that guy had won and there didn’t need to be a runoff.”


“And I’m not even a Democrat.”

“No. You want some coffee?”

“Had mine, thanks.”

“I miss the Far Side.”

“Me too. Those were good for a chuckle.”


“Back in 1986, I had a party up in the Cuyamaca Mountains based on the Far Side. That very comic up there. Potluck picnic followed by a mosey.”

“How did it work?”

“I’m not sure my friends in California understood the idea of a mosey. They thought it would be more organized, but I tried to explain that in a real mosey — as opposed to a cartoon mosey — people just go where they want. They mosey over to that tree, they mosey down to the lake, they mosey over to the road, they mosey over to their car with a picnic basket. Moseying is more a way of life than a race, but yeah, in the comic, it’s a race.”

“I hope everyone had a good time.”

“They did. Everyone was happy to be up in the mountains anyway. They wanted it to be an annual event, but we only did it once. Well, I got to get out there and mosey back and forth across the lawn with the mower.”

“Again? You did that last week!”

“Yeah. I’m starting to remember why I don’t like summer all that much. You have housework and yard work. In winter, you just shovel the walks once in a while.”


Most earth pigments tend to be opaque, literally like “looking into dirt” because that’s what they are, dirt. They can be thinned so they seem transparent — watercolors make use of earth pigments but in particles so fine and watered down so well, that paper or other layers of colors show through. Mineral pigments and some modern chemical pigments are often transparent by their nature. Some pigments made from stones — Ultramarine blue was made from Lapis Lazuli — retain a magical reflective ability even when they’re ground to powder.

I stopped painting sometime last year. I’ve tried to figure out why, and finally came to understand it. Basically, it’s other people.

I can’t remember not drawing or not painting. I have done both those things since I was a little kid. But, as I got older, and more interested in it, my mother became vehement about not wanting me to be an artist. “I just want you to be happy,” she said. “Artists are not happy people.”

Now I know that people are either happy or they are not. Just because one is an artist, doesn’t mean they’re on the verge of schizophrenia or suicide. There have always been more happy artists than unhappy artists, but because of our twisted mentalities, we humans build cults around romantic misery — van Gogh, Jim Morrison, etc. Plenty of artists — most artists — just do their work, earn the wage, and live their lives as respected members of the community. Before cameras, being an artist was a respected trade. Humans have always wanted — and created — images of their world.

When I moved to Monte Vista right after retiring, I immediately joined the local artist group and became a member of the fledgling art co-op. I’ve written about both experiences in other places and have moved on, but the painting thing? I’ve done one painting since I left these organizations. It was a pretty good painting, acrylic, the person who owns it loves it, but…

The Princess and the Hens

The Princess and the Hens

To be an artist, you need a thick skin. I don’t have one. I have several artist friends with whom I have a mutually constructive relationship, but being in an organization in a small town with local artists? What a nightmare that turned out to be. I know art has always been competitive — look at Michelangelo and Leonardo, competing against each other and several other very fine artists — but in a milieu like this one where no one’s life depends on it, and no one’s work is really that good, it seems stupid.

I’m hoping to return to the place where my work is personal to me, and the sounds of these strident voices (“I hate realistic art!” “Why would anyone paint landscapes!”) have faded far enough into the distance that I will want to paint again. Why? Well, as you can see, I have a lot of paint…

Lamont and Dude Reminisce about Continental Drift

“Dude? You up, too?”

“Another earthquake.”

“I hate it when we get earthquakes at night, and I don’t get to enjoy them. Just jolted awake, stunned, going, ‘What?’.”

“Especially when you know the really interesting ones are going come at rush hour.”

“That could be why they’re interesting.”

“True that. You going back to bed?”

“I don’t know. Maybe there will be some aftershocks.”

“You really like these things, don’t you, Lamont?”

“Nostalgia. You know how it is. I remember the glorious times of the shifting tectonic plates…”

“We’re still in those times, Lamont.”

“Yeah, I know. I just remember so vividly the moment when the Indian subcontinent crashed into Asia. Wheeeeee!”

“C’mon, Lamont. You can’t expect me to believe you felt that. The continents weren’t exactly sliding around like air-hockey pucks.”

“15 cm a year. That’s moving, if you’re a continent.”

“What were you?”

“I was a small meat-eating dinosaur with wing-like appendages.”

“Could you fly?”

“Nah. I wish. Weren’t you there?”

“Not that I recall. Maybe it was one of those dark times when I was a bacteria.”

“Maybe you were a tree. That would have been the best. As a tree you could have experienced a lot more of the whole drift thing. Maybe that explains your love of surfing.”

“Apropos of surfing, sun’s coming up. You want to…?”



Lamont and Dude are characters I came up with a couple of years ago. They have the uncanny ability to remember many of their past incarnations which gives them a unique perspective on life, the universe and everything.